IEA Oil Release May Lift Tanker Demand, Top Ships CEO Says

The cost of shipping refined oil products in the Mediterranean Sea may rise as stock releases by International Energy Agency members increases tanker demand, Top Ships Inc. said.

Italy, France, Spain and Turkey will collectively release about 9.1 million barrels of oil products over 30 days, according to the IEA. That’s about 1.1 million metric tons, or enough cargoes for 37 medium-range tankers.

“If the IEA releases an amount of oil products, the number of cargoes will increase while the number of ships will remain the same,” Evangelos Pistiolis, chief executive officer, of Athens-based Top Ships, said by phone today. “Shipping rates are very low because there are far more ships than cargoes. It will help the market during the summer period in July.”

IEA members will release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves over 30 days beginning today, to make up for a Libyan production shortfall due to unrest in the country and to curb high prices, the agency said June 23. Half of the crude will come from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The IEA said it would make emergency stocks available in 12 member countries.

Charter rates for medium-range tankers shipping cargoes across the Mediterranean Sea, normally carrying 30,000 tons of refined oil products, dropped 0.4 percent today to 137.22 Worldscale points, according to the Baltic Exchange in London.

Daily rental income for medium-range tankers, which varies with changes in fuel costs, slid 4.7 percent to $10,052. The price, the lowest since June 17, is down 40 percent since the end of March and down 8.9 percent this year.

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